Thursday, July 16, 2009

1:4 Walkabout

In "Tabula Rasa," Jack and Kate talked about new beginnings. In "Walkabout", we discover a character who has had one in a big way. The biggest reveal of the show so far happens at the end of this episode with the discovery that John Locke was in a wheelchair when he got on Oceanic 815. It's timed flawlessly, with lots of subtle foreshadowing. I remember seeing it for the first time and being blown away. All assumptions about these characters are called into question.

Lostpedia reports that the original title of this episode was "Lord of the Files," a reference to William Golding's Lord of the Flies, which the show borrows from often. In flashbacks Locke is a "lord of the files" - filling out TPS reports (fun Office Space reference!) and playing Risk with coworkers during lunch. (In later episodes his love of games is fleshed out more fully, and becomes an important character trait.) The only glimpse we get of the Locke we know is what is perhaps his signature phrase: "Don't tell me what I can't do." The dialogue that stood out to me this time was his description of a walkabout:

"...a Walkabout is a journey of spiritual renewal, where one derives strength from the earth. And becomes inseparable from it."

Locke didn't get the Australian Walkabout he had planned on, but the experience he's having on the Island seems to fit the bill. The Island is what is giving him strength - maybe he's even inseparable from it.

The juxtapositions in this episode are striking; flashback Locke is powerless, disrespected, lonely, frustrated. Island Locke is the exact opposite - truly able to create his own destiny. He emerges triumphant from the jungle, having faced down the "monster" and killed a boar. The same question I asked about Kate could apply to Locke: is this persona he's adopted on the Island authentic? Has he really started over? Or will his past catch up with him? At the end of season five, we're left unsure about Locke's purpose. Is he just a pawn? Or is he playing an important role that we don't understand yet? I think the jury is still out, but I hope it's the latter.


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